Hello there lovely, recently-engaged, floating on cloud nine, and then immediately overwhelmed couple. This post is written exactly for you. If the planning process has left you feeling stressed and hallowed then please keep reading. I am on a mission to help you create a wedding planning experience that honors where you've come from as individuals and celebrates where you're going together as a couple.
For the last 10 years, as I worked away planning large scale events and conferences, I watched my friends ride the roller-coaster of emotions during the beginning of their engagements. From incredible elation, joy, and excitement after the proposal, to the onslaught of opinions, information, and questions that come almost immediately after your first phone calls and posts go out. And then to the crushing overwhelm and joy-sucking stress of planning a large, emotional, and family filled event.
Here are some of the things I’ve heard:
“The stress of making decisions has taken all the joy out of this time for me,”
“The disappointment I feel from our families when we ask them to cut their guest list feels down right embarrassing.”
- “The stress doesn’t feel worth it anymore, and I feel like people's opinions are robbing me of a wedding experience”
I looked around at these fiercely talented, capable, vibrant people in my life, who were reduced to puddles of stress, and couldn’t help but think that there has to be a better way. This is supposed to be a celebration! A celebration of LOVE none the less! Are you telling me that when you’re 80, sitting hand-in-hand with your spouse and looking back on your life, you’re going to want to think about the lost sleep, stress, and fights in the months that lead up to the beginning of your marriage? No, absolutely not! Then where does that leave us? With the explanation that “this is just the way it is”...”It will all be worth it in the end”...“This is how everyone else feels too, so it’s inevitable.” Well, I say no to that. Just NO. I refuse to accept that isn’t a better way.
So I took my two degrees in psychology, and my 10 years of event planning experience and went to work to drilling down into what was causing this stress and how to approach wedding planning in a different way. Stress is almost always caused by a disagreement or a difference of opinion. And underlying that disagreement is usually a miscommunication. And digging down one level below that is usually a set of unclear expectations. Nailed it! Then that’s where we start...
THE HEIRLOOM EXPERIENCE
Setting Your Wedding Values
My process starts with a discussion about what is truly most important to you and your partner on your wedding day and how those priorities can be at the top of the expectations of your loved ones as well.
How Does This Apply To Me?
What’s the expectation when you get engaged? Well on the surface it’s pretty simple: You’re going to get married and your closest friends and family will be there to witness and celebrate. Great! I think many people agree that this is a great expectation to shoot for.
But that is such a 3,000 foot, overview of the expectation that when the very first decision needs to be made, it’s easy for miscommunications to creep in. Because everyone involved has a deeper set of expectations that they may or may not be communicating.
Couple: We’re going to get married in a beautifully small and intimate celebration, with the only the most important people in our lives surrounding us, and begin our marriage with no wedding debt, so we can put all our wedding gift money toward a downpayment on our first little dream house.
Parents: Our son/daughter is going to get married in a beautiful ceremony in front of all the people who have been so loving to us over the 25+ years of our lives we’ve raised our family in this community.
Friends: My friend’s wedding is going to be the best party ever! I’m going to look fierce in my dress and have so much fun and get an amazing Facebook profile picture out of it! Bonus points if I meet a cute groomsman!
Those right there are three VERY different weddings! Without a clear direction on the expectation for the wedding you want, people insert their own.
What makes my process work for YOU!
Starting with a clear set of expectations and wedding values at the beginning of your planning process gives you a roadmap to guide you through every single planning decision you encounter. This discussion also brings out the ‘why’ of your wedding values, which makes sharing these values with your family and loved ones much more powerful.
Here’s an example: “Mom, we’re choosing X caterer because we like them the best.” vs. “Mom, we’re choosing X caterer because they serve the most beautiful family-style meals and having our guests connect over a shared meal is really important to us.” It’s pretty hard to argue with that reasoning because you’ve clearly stated your decision, set an expectation and backed it up with why it’s important to you.
One Major Decision at a Time
All large tasks are more manageable when accomplished one step at a time. And there are SO many tiny decisions that all add up to a beautiful and meaningful wedding celebration that the sheer number can sometimes be daunting. My process focuses on selecting one major vendor at a time. This simple step has made a huge impact in the planning process for my couples. When focusing on one major decision at a time, you’re able to be more focused and present in the process because you’re not dividing your attention between reviewing the information for multiple different aspects at once. We do this in a very intentional order based on both the logistics of what needs to be finalized first and the wedding values you selected as most important to you.
Good For Her! Not For Me
Why is it so important to set wedding values? You just want to get lost in a sea of Pinterest flowers and imagine how you’re going to look in your dress and what it’s going to be like to walk down that aisle. Good! You can do all of that! But take a beat, and lay the groundwork that will let you enjoy this special time in your life and in your relationship. Do the HEART work to prepare yourself for what’s to come. Establishing your wedding values gives you a buoy to hold on to in a sea of Pinterest, opinions, and endless wedding conversations with others.
Comparison is a big part of the wedding game. It’s the part no one likes to talk about, because it’s not always the prettiest part of the process, but it’s a real part. There’s a natural instinct to compare your wedding to those of other around you, or what you see online.
Here’s an example:
Lisa had the most incredible late night campfire and s'mores station at her wedding!
You: Oh my gosh, that sounds amazing. My sweets table is going to look so ordinary compared to that. I need to up my sweets station game!
Your Wedding Values: Hey there, remember me? I’m your wedding value of experiencing live music with your guests. Good for Lisa for celebrating with that awesome s’mores station! I’m going to make your wedding just as amazing because you and your partner love to go out and listen to live local music together and your guests are going to get that same experience at the wedding! You’ll look back and remember how the band you discovered on your first date, had Grandma dancing around the room all night!
Good for her (or him or them)! That’s not right for me. There’s SO much power in those words.
THE HEART BEHIND THE HEIRLOOM EXPERIENCE
I believe so wholeheartedly in this process because I’ve seen how it can reduce the stress and increase the joy in planning your wedding celebration! It also aligns so closely with the other areas of the wedding planning process I believe to be true. If you’re interested in setting some wedding values of your own, head right over here and send me a message. I’d love to chat with you about how to make your wedding planning process the most joyful experience ever!